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Discussion Starter #1
I just want to say at the beginning that, while this post specifically applies to novels, it doesn't necessarily need to. I'm aiming to present a theory on how the cognitive functions of a person might be personified, not just for writing but in any place where it might be used.

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As an INFJ, I tend to be rather methodical about the symbolism I construct in the stories I enjoy telling. I can't write just for the sake of writing--I like having a meaning to what I'm saying. One of the ways I like to construct meaning is through the characters. I tend to tell stories that, metaphorically, revolve around a single 'person', but that meta-person's story is told through (usually) a number of characters (one of whom is usually a manifestation of the meta-person), the stories of whom symbolically relate to the overarching idea. In essence, the story becomes about what's going on inside the meta-person's head, and the characters become representations of him.

If you've read anything about how John Beebe developed his eight-function model, then you know that he thinks it best to view the functions not as an impersonal, abstract process, but rather as people all having input into the cognitive process. To these manifestations he assigns Jungian archetypes: 'Hero' corresponds to the dominant function, 'Father/Mother' to the auxiliary, 'Puella/Puer Aeternus', to the tertiary, and so forth. This got me thinking--if I am to write a story about one person, told through the lens of many characters, how might I be more intentional about personifying the aspects of a the meta-character's personality? As I mulled this over, I believe I've come to an answer.

In her book, Lenore Thomson briefly mentions how there seems to be a 'rule of four' in the human psyche, that when a group of people, each one using a different of the four functions (Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling), there is some sort of harmony with the human psyche. She attributes (at least in some part) the success of the Beatles to this phenomenon: Paul was the Feeler, John was the Thinker, Ringo was the Sensor, and George was the Intuitive. Obviously it's unlikely that the Beatles were in any way intentional about this (and there isn't really agreement on John Lennon's dominant function), but in general, it seems that each of the Beatles represent the ISFP, INxP, ESxP, and INFJ personality types. While this apparently works, I was wondering if there could be a greater level of relationship between the types. As a writer, I have the liberty to make up people as I wish, so I came up with the following formula.

Start with the type of the meta-character, INFJ as an example (because who else would write these kinds of stories? :p)

Switch the first three letters, we now have INFJ and ESTJ.

Line the functions (the original type on the left and the derived type on the right) up and add them together.

  • Ni + Te = INTJ
  • Fe + Si = ESFJ
  • Ti + Ne = INTP
  • Se + Fi = ESFP
It seems to me that these four personalities would be the ideal basis for personifying the INFJ and how they view themselves.

INTJ--The Hero
It might seem strange at first that I chose the INTJ personality over the INFJ to represent then INFJ's Ni function. However, there is a method to my madness. Since I am constructing a metaphor that revolves around the INFJ's self-perception, this is very clearly an internal endeavor. Thus, in keeping with the metaphor, the character's external expression in the story would be equivalent to the INFJ's self-experience. Since INFJs introvert their thinking, it makes sense that, in telling a story, the Hero character would extravert their Thinking, because how they act is, on some level, how INFJs perceive the activity of their Ti in the mind, that is, if we are symbolizing the INFJ's relationship to their inner world by externalizing it in the story, then the driven and visionary INTJ seems like an ideal candidate for representing Ni; they have the same systematic quality about their thinking, but it is all focused outward, which means that they engage the external world with the same rigor that, for example, I am constructing my symbolism. You might be wondering at this point why I just don't flip the outer letters (INFJ becomes ENFP) if I'm going to externalize the INFJ self-experience. I suppose this could work, but I do not for two reasons. 1) I'm looking to represent all of the INFJ's functions, and 2) I feel that, on some level, doing such a thing would be inauthentic to the experience of Ni, and that, even though an ENFP might be a better representation in theory, it might jumble the message to the readers if the Hero was not Ni-dominant. Simply put, Ne is not Ni. I allow for the switch from Ti to Te because neither function is dominant. When dealing with a person's dominant perspective (Ni in this case), it seems to me that their experience of that function is not equivocal to how the function in the opposite direction (Ne) acts.

ESFJ--Father/Mother
In keeping with the rule of grouping the introverted functions and extraverted functions, I posit that ESFJs would be the best representation of an INFJ's Fe. For starters, when an INFJ is engaging their Fe, they will always be engaging their Se on some level. They have to; by using Fe they are focusing more outward, and thus Se is used for their external perception. ESFJs exacerbate this. Though sensation becomes introverted, the earthiness of a preferred sensation is still there, which means that ESFJs personify the increase in practicality that we INFJs notice in ourselves as we descend deeper into our Fe. ESFJs are the model extraverted Feelers in this case, which fits with the idea of the Father/Mother archetype--someone who has balanced out their own strengths and weaknesses (in the case of the meta-character, balanced intuition with sensation), and shows the Hero where he can grow; how the INTJ can and must grow in terms of emotion and practical skills.

INTP--Puer/Puella Aeternus
Your first thought will probably be "I thought you just said that intuition should remain introverted! What gives?" At first it might seem like I have contradicted myself, but again, let me explain. I said that Ni should remain Ni for the Hero archetype. I don't believe this is so for the case of the Eternal Child. For one, we are emphasizing a new function (tertiary), but also because I think the change is fairly representative of the idea of a child. First, let's talk about Ti. The INTP in this case represents how the INFJ perceives their own tertiary function. It is the same dynamic as the first, the N and T, but in this case, the Thinking is what we are emphasizing. Thus, the intuition changes. If INFJs think about how they use their Ti, I imagine that it somewhat resembles how an INTP acts: quiet, precise, and only chiming in when necessary. While any of these could apply to an ISTP as well, it's that subtle intuition that INTPs bring that really drives the INFJ's experience of Ti home--they are able to make intuitive leaps that somehow make total sense when they make them. The other reason intuition becomes extraverted goes back to the Child archetype. In a way, the INTP represents who the meta-character once was. Thus, their intuition (the meta-character's dominant function) is extraverted to represented the unhindered and undirected nature of young intuition--one that is full of life and eager to explore the world (in this case the psyche). I think that slight Ne playfulness that INTPs have is a good representation of an INFJ's younger self; reserved but energetic.

ESFP--Animus/Anima
Like the INTP, we keep the same F-S dynamic as before, but this time Sensation is emphasized and Feeling becomes introverted. Since Se is the inferior function of an INFJ, this one is a little hard for me to explain, but I will do my best. A lot of my reasoning here goes back to the archetype of Animus/Anima--the positive example of an opposite type/gender. ESFPs excel in everything that INTJs (the Hero) and INFJs (the meta-character) are bad at. INTJs for obvious reasons. This rule holds true for INFJs, but in different ways. Speaking from experience with my own ESFPs (a sister and a best friend), the biggests difference between us is Fe-Ti and Fi-Te. Because of Fe's standardizing nature as a Je function, the ESFP Animus/Anima represents the exact opposite--instead of standardizing ethics, the ESFP's Fi shows us an entirely different way of viewing meaning: one that is internal and dependent upon the individual. It shows us how to allow ourselves to be our own people and not just conform to whatever standard is out there (Te or Fe standard). Regardless of whether the ESFP is acting as the Animus/Anima of the INFJ or INTJ, the relationship remains the same, that they represent the sides of ourselves that need to be developed, but instead of showing us a unified example of the same type (as with the ESFJ Father/Mother), this type only shows us what a developed person of the opposite type looks like. This leaves room for the undeveloped side of the inferior function to shine through, and the ESFP's growth into maturity will represent the meta-character's development of their inferior function.

That last point is the final thing I want to address. More than getting specific about type, the reason I want to personify the functions is because they each have their own role, as Beebe pointed out. I developed this formula as perhaps the 'best' or most ideal way to symbolize them--not just for INFJs but (hopefully) for everyone. I haven't been able to test this out on anyone else, so I honestly can't say, but I suspect there is a layer of truth in it somewhere. I will say that this model is very clearly biased towards introverts (what with the whole 'characters are expressions of the inner experience' thing), but I imagine that it can be adapted for extraverts as well. My main reason for posting this was because I wanted to hear the community feedback on it, whether specifically for storytelling or just in general. And for those of you who have gotten to this point, thanks for reading.
 

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@KalimofDaybreak that was very deep and thoughtful. I can tell that you have clearly thought about this a lot before you posted it, and it's a very interesting thought indeed! First of all, i like how you switched the first three letters and added up the corresponding functions. It took me a while to get it, haha, but now that i do, it seems to make a lot of sense. Especially the Ne for INTP.

I'm thinking that if this idea gets out and people accept it, it can be revolutionary in terms of type. Of course, there aren't that many people who are into typology, but i really like this idea, even though it does sound like a very introverted thing. However, it's not like we can't at least try to come up with something for extraverts. I have to admit, i can't do philosophy as well as the average INFJ, but i'll try.

I actually imagined something like this, believe it or not, when i watched Inside Out. (Movies can really inspire me.) except i used Kiersey, and had four characters from each temperament. I think it was something like ESFP>ENFJ>ISTJ>INTP. I didn't think about it for that long, and it didn't get anywhere because i wasn't using the functions.

Hmm, i'll think about this and see what i can come up with. Great idea, again! :proud:
 

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Very well thought out! A few comments..

Do you think there's any significance to the use of the Socionics "conflictor" type, or complete opposite type, as the derived type?

I understand that as an INTP, with an ESFP derived type, that would make my characters..
ISTP - Hero
ENFP - Father/Mother
ISTJ - Puer/Puella Aeternus
ENFJ - Anima/Animus

Interesting. ISTP hero is a curious one for me, but I can see that hard-edged problem solving beast playing the part well. ENFP Father/Mother I can absolutely see, as I agree that my Ne almost always brings out my feeling function. ISTJ, as well, is very fitting, as I see Si in INTPs having a lot to do with structuring and regimenting the psyche (in sync with Ti). However, I've always seen ESFJs as being more representative of my Anima, what with Socionics duality and all, regardless of the intuition/sensing stuff.

One alternative view to consider, instead of attitude pairings (dom-tert and aux-inf), is the idea that the inferior is always activated through the tertiary, or that the tertiary is more like an auxiliary to the inferior, or something jeez I can't remember.

Really cool stuff!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very well thought out! A few comments..

Do you think there's any significance to the use of the Socionics "conflictor" type, or complete opposite type, as the derived type?
Yes, I do think there is. I am not consciously aware of the connection, but I've been fascinated by the tension there, so I figured that I could derive the types from there.

I understand that as an INTP, with an ESFP derived type, that would make my characters..
ISTP - Hero
ENFP - Father/Mother
ISTJ - Puer/Puella Aeternus
ENFJ - Anima/Animus

Interesting. ISTP hero is a curious one for me, but I can see that hard-edged problem solving beast playing the part well. ENFP Father/Mother I can absolutely see, as I agree that my Ne almost always brings out my feeling function. ISTJ, as well, is very fitting, as I see Si in INTPs having a lot to do with structuring and regimenting the psyche (in sync with Ti). However, I've always seen ESFJs as being more representative of my Anima, what with Socionics duality and all, regardless of the intuition/sensing stuff.
One thing I was concerned about (and an issue I have with the Socionics relationships in general) is that they only really work for dominant perceivers. INFJ and ENTP have the same relationship as INTP and ESTJ, but as far as I know, the former get along really well and the latter are sort of meh about each other. I suspect that differing modes of judgment tends to breed a little more tension among people than different modes of perception (probably because in modern society we are so defined by our judgments, but that's an entirely different discussion...).

The idea with this is that it's how a person views themselves, and so because our inferior functions are so out of touch, I suspect that will be a little more fuzzy. By the time I got to that character I already had my rule, so I just deduced how such an archetype might behave and went from there. I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be a little more fluid.

One alternative view to consider, instead of attitude pairings (dom-tert and aux-inf), is the idea that the inferior is always activated through the tertiary, or that the tertiary is more like an auxiliary to the inferior, or something jeez I can't remember.
I do vaguely remember something like that. I'll have to read up on that and think about it more.

Really cool stuff!
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@OtterSocks

As I was thinking about what you said a little more, I realized that another possible typeset could be:

INFJ Hero
ESFJ Father/Mother
INTP Puer/Puella Aeternus
ESTP Anima/Animus

I'm not sure what the rule could be for this particular structure, but it would follow the structure you mentioned at the end of your post. I haven't had a lot of time to flesh this out, but I'd be interested in seeing what you thought of this model.
 

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@OtterSocks

As I was thinking about what you said a little more, I realized that another possible typeset could be:

INFJ Hero
ESFJ Father/Mother
INTP Puer/Puella Aeternus
ESTP Anima/Animus

I'm not sure what the rule could be for this particular structure, but it would follow the structure you mentioned at the end of your post. I haven't had a lot of time to flesh this out, but I'd be interested in seeing what you thought of this model.
Hum, you changed the character for the dominant? I think for the sake of avoiding redundancy having the other [your dominant function] type be the hero was a good idea, even if it breaks symmetry with the anima/animus.

I guess there's no ruleset for the setup I liked, which is fairly un-Ti of me. As a creative writing tool, I suppose it doesn't have to. Someone with a weaker dual-seeking drive than me might actually favour your original system, as I personally relate my soul-image to the ESFJ in my life much more than ENFJs.
 
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